Cyprus Mail

Duckett leads England’s robust reply with blazing hundred

third test india v england
England's Ben Duckett celebrates after reaching his century

Opener Ben Duckett smashed an 88-ball hundred to lead England’s robust reply to India’s first innings total of 445 on day two of the third test in Rajkot on Friday.

The opener’s 133 not out off 118 balls, which contained two sixes and 21 fours, powered England to 207-2 at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

Ravichandran Ashwin became the second Indian bowler, after Anil Kumble, to claim 500 test wickets but it was otherwise a day of hard toil for India as England scored nearly at a run-a-ball rate.

Joe Root was batting on nine at stumps with England trailing India by 238 in the third match of the five-test series, which remains poised at 1-1.

Earlier, debutant Dhruv Jurel (46) and Ashwin (37) mounted a spirited rearguard while Jasprit Bumrah (26) provided a late cameo to take India near the 450-mark.

After India resumed on 326-5, James Anderson removed Thursday’s nightwatchman Kuldeep Yadav, caught behind for four.

Ravindra Jadeja, who completed his fourth test hundred on day one, looked surprisingly tentative and gave a return catch to bowler Root to depart after 112, which included two sixes and nine fours.

Ashwin and Jurel frustrated England with their 77-run partnershipand survived Mark Wood’s short-ball barrage with a heavily-manned leg side.

England were rather sloppy on the field and Jurel was dropped twice, first by Ollie Pope at midwicket and then by England captain Ben Stokes at leg slip.

Rehan Ahmed denied Jurel a fifty in the batter’s debut test and Wood (4-114) dismissed Bumrah, who was the last Indian wicket to fall.

The tourists began their innings 5-0 after India were penalised five runs for Ashwin’s run on the protected area down the middle of the pitch.

Duckett initially looked ill at ease against Mohammed Siraj’s lively pace but he soon grew in confidence, which was obvious in the way he treated the Indian spinners.

He raced to a 39-ball fifty but lost opening partner Zak Crawley.

Crawley attempted a sweep shot against Ashwin only to top-edge the ball to Rajat Patidar at short fine leg.

Ashwin became the ninth bowler, and fifth spinner, to take 500 test wickets.

Duckett deflated the Indian attack batting with the kind of aggression which has become the hallmark of the team under Stokes.

The 29-year-old brought up his third test hundred with a four off Siraj.

Siraj lifted India’s sagging morale late in the final session when he trapped Pope lbw for 39. The batter was initially adjudged not out but the decision was overturned on review.

“Five hundred wickets is done and dusted now. We’ve got a game hanging in the balance,” Ashwin said afterwards.

“The game is going neck and neck. We’ll have to bat and bowl well to stay in the game.”

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